Discriminatory mental health law to be challenged
Posted Thursday 10 May 2012
A Bill aiming to overturn restrictions that prevent people with experience of mental health problems becoming MPs, jurors, company directors or school governors is returning to the House of Lords on Tuesday 15 May. You can help support it by tweeting a peer or telling us your story.
Lord Dennis Stevenson originally presented the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill in the House of Lords in April 2011. Unfortunately, because of timetable restrictions, there was not enough time for the Bill to receive the necessary readings in both Houses of Parliament to become law. It has been reintroduced following the State Opening of Parliament on 9 May.
The Bill will:
- repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983, under which a Member of the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly or Northern Ireland Assembly automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months
- amend the Juries Act 1974 to remove the blanket ban on “mentally disordered persons” undertaking jury service
- amend the Companies (Model Articles) Regulations 2008 which states that a person might cease to be a director of a public or private company “by reason of their mental health”
- amend the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2007 so that individuals who have been detained under the Mental Health Act are no longer prevented from being school governors.
These four pieces of legislation feed into the outdated and discriminatory idea that people with mental health problems can never recover, and cannot be trusted to participate in social, political or economic life.
The Bill, developed by Lord Stevenson and Charles Walker MP, is supported by Mind, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Rethink Mental Illness. The Government has repeatedly stated that the Bill is in line with the coalition’s mental health strategy and it will support it to become Law.
If you’re on Twitter, tweet a peer to support the Bill or share your own story of discrimination with us. Find out how.